Tennis: Why the next restart is imminent in Rothenbaum


Why the next restart is imminent at Rothenbaum

DTB President Dietloff von Arnim (left) with organizers Sandra and Peter-Michael Reichel at Center Court in Rothenbaum

Photo: ValeriaWitters / WITTERS

The men’s tournament in Hamburg is secured until 2024. But what happens next? That’s what the German Tennis Federation is planning.

Hamburg. Sandra Reichel asked for understanding. “We have big plans for this year’s tournament, which will require a lot of work. That’s the only thing I focus on, “said the 50-year-old Austrian. She can and therefore does not want to comment on ongoing processes. The director of Tennis tournament in Rothenbaum well deserved, which is after all a very special comeback this summer from 16 to 24 July, where Ladies and gentlemen for the first time since 1978 reopens together on Hallerstrasse.

It is more than doubtful whether the combined tournament that Sandra and her father Peter-Michael Reichel stated as the main goal when they took over the business in Hamburg in the spring of 2019 will hold. The future of the entrepreneurial family in Hamburg is in full swing, now that it has become known that the German Tennis Federation (DTB) as the holder of the license for the men’s tournament has re-offered the right to host the event after 1 p.m. five-year contract with Reichels from 2024 has expired. An early extension of the contract, which DTB chairman Dietloff von Arnim described as a serious option at the beginning of the year, is off the table.

Tennis: This is how DTB explains the new announcement of the tournament

On the contrary, it is reported that the umbrella organization, headquartered in Hamburg, has already found a new partner. There will be no official statements on this until after this year’s event has been held, so as not to create further unrest. Von Arnim told Abendblatt: “There are a few interested parties who would like to organize the men’s tournament in Hamburg. Our task as DTB is to find the best solution for the association, and therefore we have made a new tender.” Reichels could, of course, apply again.

In 2018, the Austrians benefited from the association’s approach, when after ten years under the direction of Wimbledon champion Michael Stich, a new organizer was sought. At that time, von Arnim, who was not yet head of DTB and as organizer of the World Team Cup in Düsseldorf, quite familiar with the organization of major events, had even applied for the Rothenbaum license. At least now he made it clear that DTB had no interest in acting as organizer itself.

It is perfectly legitimate that the largest tennis federation in the world wants to find the best deal for financial reasons. Nevertheless, in light of the developments that can be observed among Reichels, especially in relation to the city, it is surprising that the path of consolidation after the two hard years with Corona seems to be coming to an end. It is clear that the DTB and the Reichel family disagree on important points. The association criticizes that Hamburg is the only German tournament without a title sponsor. It is also said that the interest in a combined ladies’ and men’s event – which no other German location can show – is only from Reichel’s side. In fact, the WTA license for the women’s tournament belongs to the Austrians only.

Tennis am Rothenbaum should be preserved in the long run

This fact could mean that the city would have to work with two different organizers from 2024 onwards if Reichels was interested in continuing the women’s tournament as a single event in Hamburg. “Basically, it would not be a problem,” said Minister of Sports Christoph Holstein in the Abendblatt. The main goal in the long run is to maintain and develop tennis at Rothenbaum, which was completely renovated in 2020 for ten million euros. We are awaiting the development, but have built up a good relationship with the current organizers.

Another scenario that would change Hamburg as a tennis venue is also discussed. The men’s tennis organization ATP plans to reform its tournament calendar by 2025. Already next year, selected Masters tournaments in the 1000 series (1000 world ranking points to win) will be held over two weeks instead of seven or ten days, as has been the case so far. This results in postponements of smaller events in the 250 and 500 series – the latter also includes Hamburg. DTB chief von Arnim assumes that the July date for Rothenbaum, which has been in place since 2009, will only be secured by 2023.

The cut would be even more serious if Germany, which is the only major tennis market with neither a Grand Slam nor a Masters tournament, could get a 1000 tournament. Discussions about this are conducted internally in ATP. Such a tournament, however, would under no circumstances take place on the sand that has been played in Hamburg since 1892, since Rome and Madrid are set as master tournaments in the run-up to the French Open. A 1000 competition in preparation for the grass classic at Wimbledon would be possible, so a similar license for Germany would most likely go to Halle (Westphalia), which will host a 500 competition on grass in June. This in turn would mean that Hamburg would be downgraded to a 250 level (like Munich and Stuttgart), as there would probably no longer be a 500 category next to a Masters license.

Sandra Reichel does not have time for all these mind games, she will after all make the hard-fought combined tournament a success – even if it is unclear whether she can benefit from it.

Updated: Wed, 25/05/2022, 06:00

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